Arabia Deserta (Riyadh to Al-Kharj Road)

Minor jihads of horns to left and right,
We stop-start-stop through noon-dimmed traffic lights;
Start, at long last reach the smooth-laned outskirts,
City dwindling behind, its umpteen streets
Framed hazily within a single glance.
Pylonned and gouged and diggered, the distance
Fans out into man-made No Man’s Land.
Offsetting the swelling gamut of sand,
Cement factory flanks cement factory;
Our mirror clocks up a quick inventory
Of steelrods, breeze-blocks, fittings, girders, tiles –
Next year’s palaces, proto-shopping-malls,
Suburbs in embryo, contracts by the mile.
Here’s another stretch of half-built wall,
There a superannuated camel,
Fur turned murky as, hard by, the hubcaps,
Fenders, windscreens of imported pick-ups
Flash and glimmer, that tireless stiltjack
The sun rummages among car-wrecks stacked
Into a metallic ridge. Purplish smoke-
trail the only djinni, crushed cans of Coke
This desert of a desert’s flowers,
Too much we see in Nature that is ours.
FUNPARK 2OOO with all its towers
Stands a callow ruin, time as though reversed;
Run up against infinitudes of blue,
Its big wheel idles, no place to go to,
Fortune’s figment, relic of the new.

Martin Bennett | Mudlark No. 12
Contents | Blues for Giacomo